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Man pleads guilty in sex assault

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A Grand Forks man has changed his plea in a sexual assault case in which he choked his then-girlfriend. Lance Barrett Billings II, 31, pleaded guilty Thursday in Grand Forks District Court, canceling a jury trial scheduled fo...

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A Grand Forks man has changed his plea in a sexual assault case in which he choked his then-girlfriend.

Lance Barrett Billings II, 31, pleaded guilty Thursday in Grand Forks District Court, canceling a jury trial scheduled for Jan. 5.

Billings is charged with gross sexual imposition, a Class AA felony, aggravated assault and interfering with an emergency phone call, both Class C felonies. A Class AA felony carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole.

The charges were leveled against Billings in August 2014 after his then-girlfriend told police in July he choked her during a domestic dispute the night prior and forcibly raped her, according to the criminal complaint filed against Billings.

The complaint said the victim told police Billings disabled  her cellphone. She tried calling 911 using Billings' phone, she told police, but he allegedly took the phone from her and hung up before dispatchers could answer. When dispatchers called back, Billings allegedly told them he had accidentally dialed 911.

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Billings' sentencing hearing is set for May 11.

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